Let Us Love You, FAM
March 29, 2013

Like a bald eagle lurking for prey, FAM’s Article 88 has claimed yet another casualty. This time in the form of national team coach Datuk K. Rajagopal, who apparently told the press that the M-League lacks local strikers.

Not for condemning the organization. Not for complaining about the referee. Not for taking the General Secretary’s parking spot.

But for merely stating a harmless fact. A statement only as detrimental as say, “My pants are tight!” or “Who let the dogs out?”

As absurd as the charge against Rajagopal was, it didn’t really come as a big surprise to anyone. He’s not the first national team coach to fall victim to the clause. In 2009, B. Sathianathan was banned for six month for branding the M-League “non-football”. His statement came after we lost 5 – 0 to the UAE at home and while he was partly at fault for the thrashing, dishing out on his players as playing in a non-football league was rather kind.

In essence, Article 88 states that only the upper echelons of FAM are allowed to talk about the national team in the media. Everyone else is to remain tight-lipped. And by “everyone else”, they mean, and I quote, “official, coach of the association or referee or any member or associate member or player registered or employed with any member or associate member”.

By the end of that sentence, I wondered if I’m affected too for being a member of my local library book club.

While Article 88 may be a fair control mechanism on paper, to protect the reputation of the organization, its rigid implementation is making FAM look like an authoritarian entity.

As a football fan, I see FAM as the body responsible for driving our national football team and domestic league forward. The unit that will continuously find innovative ways to bring our football to the next level. Somewhere beyond number 164 in the FIFA World Ranking. I didn’t even know there were that many countries out there.

If their time is instead spent on “investigating” and “looking further” into petty comments such as the one Rajagopal has made, then perhaps FAM ought to consider setting its priorities straight. The guy is under enough pressure already trying to meet the expectations of us, the demanding supporters of Harimau Malaya. Cut the man some slack and let him do his job.

As harsh as some of the public’s reactions toward Article 88 might sound, the collective voice that everyone has deep down is for the best of Malaysian football. We wouldn’t be making this much noise if we didn’t care. This sport is probably one of the only few things that bring us all together. This and Maharaja Lawak Mega.

So come on, FAM. Let’s put our egos aside and sort this thing out. We want to love you. Don’t make it so hard.

The Day We Met Derek
March 23, 2013

You know, I whine a lot about music. The radio’s playing crap. David Guetta’s musical skill is pressing the play button. Foo Fighters gave the same song 15 different names and put them in “an album”. I whine a lot.

And it’s partly due to my lack of engagement with contemporary music. I fail to really connect with most of what is playing out there these days. There are the few odd ones e.g. Charles Bradley, Gary Clark Jr., Alabama Shakes. But the stuff that I really take time to listen to are from the past.

So I often tell my friends that I wish I live in a different era. When real musicians reigned and I could really look up to people who are actually producing music I couldn’t wait to listen to. I miss waiting for a particular act’s new album to come out. The last time that happened was probably when Rancid released “…And Out Come the Wolves” -- almost 20 years ago.

What frustrates me the most is how this whole dissatisfaction is making me sound like a music snob. Even reading the three paragraphs above makes me want to punch myself in the gonads. Whatever warrants me to be choosy anyway? I can’t produce good music to save my life either.

But if I could be honest, that’s how I’ve actually felt about music today. Until this little band from Jacksonville, Florida came out.

The Tedeschi Trucks band is made up of husband and wife Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi and some of the industry’s finest musicians. I’d first heard of Derek when he was playing for the Allman Brothers Band as a prodigy guitarist a few years back. And had the privilege of seeing him play live for the first time when he was touring with Eric Clapton in 2008. Susan has been in the circuit for a while and as destiny would’ve beautifully fated, met Derek when she toured with the Allmans. They got married and the rest was history.

They had performed separately initially. Derek with the Derek Trucks Band, and Susan on her own. After a while, they decided to set up an act together; which in my book is the single most important decision in music history. They’d released their first album Revelator in 2011, and won a Grammy for it. One of the more sensible recipients in view of other recent winners of the thing, e.g. Arcade Fire.

Revelator became an album I listen to in the car, at the office, when I run, everywhere. Never had I been so immersed in music made in the present day. I became so increasingly enamored by it that when it was announced that they would be playing in Singapore, it took me less than all of three minutes to purchase a ticket.

We flew south two days ago and throughout the flight up until we were in the venue compound, I only had one thing in mind: to meet Derek Trucks. They were scheduled to play last that evening, after rock legend Robert Plant’s band; whom the majority of the crowd were there for. So when Robert went up, all eyes were on them. All but the four of us, and the security guards at the back.

Our presence didn’t make much sense to guards. The guy on stage used to front Led Zeppelin. What were these four Malay guys doing hanging on the railing at the back?

The answer came when Derek and Susan walked out of their trailer to check on Robert’s show. We jumped like madmen and shouted their names, puzzling everyone -- who must’ve thought we were huge fans of the roadies.

The sight of the couple waving back at us in the dim-lighted area was a heartwarming moment but as Derek actually walked a good 25m to greet us, had a chat, and took some photos, our minds were very well blown. A good two minutes of his time which had just elevated our respect for this man ten-fold. We were left speechless by his humility. And everyone else, still confused by what had just happened.

As for their show itself, I could barely remember anything other than the greatest musical performance I'd ever experienced. They are after all, the best band in the world today.

Photography by Azalia Suhaimi

  • Asrif, b. 1983
  • Subang Jaya, Malaysia
  • asrifomar[@]gmail[.]com
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